When we first sat down to brainstorm this article, we researched what types of herbs, fruits, and vegetables could be grown successfully in containers. From what we saw, it seemed like pretty much anything could be grown in a container. We have searched high and low, and we have even grown a few things in containers for ourselves.
Well, the rumors are true folks. Almost anything can be grown in almost any container. There are many reasons to choose to start a container garden. We used containers as a way to increase our gardening space, since we were renting and couldn’t dig up much of the lawn.
Benefits of Container Gardening
- Makes gardening easier for people that are not physically able to work in a garden bed in/low to the ground.
- Gardening becomes possible for people that do not have the outdoor space.
- Ability to move plants around: into the sun/out of the cold, away from pests
- Great for companion planting
- Visually appealing
There are a few things to remember when growing fruits and veggies in containers. We have narrowed it all down to just 3 simple steps for a successful container garden.
Step 1: Pick Your Plants
The good news is that almost anything can be grown in a container. As long as the nutrients, space, and support are provided that the plant may need to grow. One of the most popular things to grow in containers are herbs. Most herbs grow really well in containers. They are easy to maintain, and many herbs spread and can take up your whole garden (having them in a container controls the spread). Additionally, having fresh herbs growing in the kitchen inspires you to cook at home and use them in dishes.
There are a few things tend not to grow very well in containers.
- Asparagus and Rhubarb: usually take up quite a bit of space and have deep roots that reach 2-3 feet deep in the soil.
- Pumpkins, squash, and melons: these spread out a lot, but maybe possible with trellis and support
- Fruit Trees: it may be possible, but the trees will likely be small and/or not yield much.
If you are not sure if something will grow well in a container, or you just really want to grow something but do not have the outdoor space, just give it a try! Even if the entire plant is lost (which is the worst and super sad) you still learn something from the experience.
Step 2: Pick Your Pots
The container that you choose to grow your plants in depends on what your plants need and what you prefer. Often, it comes down to what is affordable and/or readily available. However, if you have some options to choose from, there are a few factors to consider when deciding what to plant in.
- Containers must have drainage holes, otherwise the water will sit and may cause rot. If it doesn’t have any, you can always just drill a few in.
- Containers need to be large enough to accommodate the plant as the leaves and roots grow. Some plants such as tomatoes, melons, and squash have deep roots and need a taller pot. Other plants like lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage have shallower roots but take up a lot of space and need a wider pot.
- What is available and affordable. Planters and pots can get expensive., it helps to make use of what you already have. And, if you have the tools available, you can always make one yourself.
*Pro Tip: Put heavy pots on casters to make it easier to move them around.
Step 3: Plant and Prune
When planting, use a premium-quality potting mix. Plants are only as good as the soil they grow in. We use this awesome Fox Farm ocean forest mix. Read the label and look for quality ingredients such as aged bark (or composted forest products), perlite, vermiculite, lime, sphagnum peat moss, and a wetting agent (helps soil stay uniformly moist). Even better, mix in some compost!
- *Pro Tip: Be cautious of using soil from out in the yard. It often needs additional things added because it may be too dense and infested with disease and/or nematodes
Pots dry out faster than in-ground gardens, so you’ll need to water containers often, especially in hot weather. Consider watering spikes, self watering pots, or a spaghetti tube drip irrigation system (if you have many pots in one place). These systems help save water, reduce how often you need to water, and may be better for the plants.
*Pro Tip: Don’t forget to mulch. Mulch will protects the soil from the direct heat of the sun, and keeps the soil moist.
After a year or so (whenever the soil has lost its luster), empty the old soil into a compost pile and replace with new seedlings to begin another container garden. When you may not think it is possible to begin a garden, container gardening makes it possible! Share your favorite plants to grow in containers in the comments below! One of our favorites is lettuce because fits perfectly in an average sized pot and looks really nice.